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Information and Communication Technologies for Sustainable Development in the Field: A case study of a rural community in Nicaragua
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The use of information and communication technologies, ICTs, is increasing the possibilities to exchange information and communicate in different contexts all over the World. The use of ICTs for development, ICT4D, in order to contribute to the improvement of living standards in developing countries is one of these possibilities. This paper presents a qualitative research based on a case study in Nicaragua, which explores the current situation when it comes to the uses of ICTs and its potential to be used to develop in a sustainable manner. The research framework is based on empowerment theories and the study of the diffusion of innovation and it shows how ICTs are being used in a rural community in Nicaragua to amplify their needs through communication, gaining visibility among other actors, increasing their opportunities and empowering themselves by increasing the awareness of power imbalances and identifying and learning about new possibilities through ICTs. This paper also studies the diffusion of ICTs in the community and deepens the understanding of the role of individuals and other interpersonal factors in the innovations-adoption process. 

Abstract [en]

Information and communication technologies, ICTs, are becoming more and more popular all over the World. The use of mobile phones, smartphones and the Internet is a revolution that affects our everyday lives in both professional and personal contexts. These potential for different uses has converged in the appearance of ICT4D, ICT for development, which promotes the use of new technologies to offer new social and economical opportunities for developing countries. On the other hand, the use of resources and the impact of development on the environment is also a trigger to consider sustainability in the combination together with ICT4D in countries that are aiming to grow during the upcoming years.

This paper presents an overview of the uses of ICTs in a rural community in Nicaragua through a case study and explores the potential and limitations for the use of new technologies to achieve a more sustainable development. The study presents how different community members use ICTs to communicate with other individuals in a personal sphere (family and friends) but also that there are other uses related to other actors which implies the creation of networks and therefore the increasing of visibility and opportunities for the community. These uses are leading to new situations where the community is gaining power in relation with other actors. The thesis shows how ICTs are promoting and amplifying the communication among actors, which, at the same time, are bringing new information and opportunities for the community.

Due to the fieldwork in Nicaragua, this thesis has been able to identify the uses of ICT4D but also the role of different individuals and how some personal characteristics are promoting the use of new technologies. Different stages for the diffusion of the innovation are explained to show that among the interviewees we can identify degrees in the knowledge and practice of the ICTs where different uses are tested before the adoption of the innovation or not. At the same time, the paper presents the main limitations identified by the actors for the use of ICTs, which should be considered in the implementation of ICT4D such as degree of education, age, economic resources, fear to change or lack of motivation among others.

Finally, in relation with the use of ICTs for sustainable development, the paper presents the opportunities identified by the actors being aware that the environment is presented as an instrumental element to develop socially and economically but also that ICTs are considered as an opportunity to learn about a more sustainable resource management and as a way of obtaining new resources from entities to avoid or reduce environmental impacts. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 60 p.
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 219
Keyword [en]
Sustainable Development, ICT4D, empowerment, innovation, rural communities, communication
National Category
Natural Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-236177OAI: diva2:763619
Subject / course
Sustainable development
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
2014-08-29, Hambergsalen, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16,, Uppsala, 11:00 (English)
Available from: 2014-11-17 Created: 2014-11-13 Last updated: 2014-11-17Bibliographically approved

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